Happy end of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month everyone!
Because it is AAPI Heritage Month, we would like to re-emphasize the significance of hepatitis B in Asian American populations:
Hepatitis B is naturally more commonly found in certain parts of the world, such as East Asia, Pacific Islands, and parts of Africa and Eastern Europe. Most people get hepatitis B at birth from their mothers who also had the disease. Unfortunately, the younger you are when you get hepatitis B, the more likely the disease will become chronic, and chronic hepatitis B can be undetected for years until you develop serious liver illnesses.
As of 2020, Asian Americans make up 6% of the total U.S. population, but account for over half of Americans living with chronic hepatitis B. Prevalence is also high in Pacific Islanders living in the U.S.
The good news is, the hepatitis B vaccination at birth has become very common, so we are seeing less new cases of hepatitis B in the world. In 2019, the World Health Organization that cases of hepatitis B in children under 5 years old have dropped below 1%, largely due to the increased use of vaccinations.
However, since it is more likely for older Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to be unknowingly infected with hepatitis B, it is important to have screening available to detect the virus before it causes serious liver damage.
Speaking of which, it has been an exciting time for DFW Hep B Free! We had our first screening since COVID began at the Vietnamese Baptist Church of Garland on 4/17 and also held our first Linkage to Care event on 5/15! It was so great to be able to back out in the DFW area collaborating with communities to raise awareness to hepatitis B. We are excited to start scheduling more screenings for the rest of the year!
If you would like to work with us to offer a screening in your community, please email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) or message us on Facebook!
the DFW Hep B Free Officer Team
We would like to share with you a message regarding the coronavirus pandemic. As of this past week, the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex has reported its first cases of COVID-19. This is the beginning of an outbreak and merits everyone’s cooperation with appropriate precautions. The best thing we can do as community members is to practice good hygiene (regularly washing hands) and “social distancing.” This involves limiting large events as well as avoiding going to crowded locations such as public transport or possibly school and work. As this situation continues to change and evolve, we hope that all of you are staying safe and healthy during this period of uncertainty.
As a medically focused organization, the Dallas-Fort Worth Hepatitis B Free program strongly values the health and safety of our members and the communities we serve. In order to minimize risk of spreading COVID-19 further, we have decided to immediately postpone our hepatitis screening events for the rest of Spring 2020. As always, the wellbeing of our communities remains our highest concern, and we hope to resume our screenings again once it becomes safe to do so.
In the meantime, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers national guidelines on how to prevent the spread of the virus and what to do if you do become sick. If you develop a fever with a cough or difficulty breathing, you should call your doctor or visit the nearest hospital.
If you have further questions regarding COVID-19, you can find more information on the Dallas County Health and Human Services Department’s website or through contacting the Dallas County COVID-19 call center (staffed by medical professionals) at 972-692-2780 from 9:00 am-3:30 pm, Monday – Friday.
Given the urgency and seriousness of this emergency, we strongly encourage all our family, friends, and neighbors to do our parts in combating this disease. Our communities have always been resilient in the face of challenges, and it is with the utmost hope that we believe we can navigate this newest one too.
Your DFW Hep B Free Leadership Team
Believe it or not, November has arrived and with the cooler weather has come the close of another year of hepatitis screenings. Just this weekend, we had 34 patients participate in our last screening scheduled for 2019 at Chin Evangelical Baptist Church in Lewisville, Texas.
Beyond our regular screenings, however, we have also been busy connecting with other organizations across the country to engage the topic of hepatitis awareness and management nationally. Back at the end of July, our very own Jenny He led a workshop in Gulfport, Mississippi for Mercy Housing and Human Development on how we run and sustain our screenings. They are now in the fourth year of a five-year grant that has led to a collaborative effort among the state health department, Boat People SOS (a Vietnamese-American organization), and a group of professors from the public health department of the University of Southern Mississippi to conduct HBV screenings and study barriers to proper screening and follow-up care. With 1 in every 4 Vietnamese-Americans in Mississippi carrying Hepatitis B (much higher than the national prevalence rate of 1 in every 12), they face challenges both similar to and different from our own in reaching out to our respective communities, including language barriers, health literacy, funding procurement, and access to phlebotomists and other medical professionals. It was a productive 2-hour workshop that sparked lots of ideas for potential future directions for both of our organizations and that gave insight into how another group has been navigating their own local challenges. They gained a lot from hearing about how we work, and we certainly learned a lot from their efforts as well.
In addition to visiting with our colleagues in Mississippi, another group of us had the opportunity to attend the annual meeting of the Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA) in New York City at the beginning of October. While not focused in particular on our role in community screenings for hepatitis, this forum offered us the opportunity to interact with many other similar organizations at medical schools across the country and allowed us to explore topics in leadership, racism, and the unique challenges and issues in healthcare that face Asian-American populations.
As always, check out our “Upcoming” page to stay up to date on our latest screenings, and don’t hesitate to reach out to schedule a screening in your area. Until next time!
Another September means the start of a new year of Hepatitis screenings! We kicked off the new academic year this past weekend with a screening at St. Edward’s Catholic Church in Deep Ellum, Dallas. We had over 55 patients show up to the screening and will be following up with each of them in another two and a half weeks on October 5th with the results of their laboratory tests.
In addition to offering our usual blood tests for the hepatitis virus, we are also starting to offer high-blood pressure screening at our events as well in an effort to further promote the long-term health of the communities we serve. As always, if you would like to work with us, please email us (email@example.com), message us on Facebook, or fill out the form on our homepage.
Our next screening will be this coming Saturday from 10am to 4pm as part of a Health Fair at Asia Times Square in Grand Prairie. Keep a look-out for that and other future screenings in the “Upcoming” section of our website!
September has started, and we already have a screening scheduled for nearly each weekend this month! We have a new class of phlebotomy-trained students who are doing well under the guidance of mentors like Dr. Lee (shown in the picture). We're also starting to have more new MS1 students volunteering. They haven't officially learned about viral hepatitis in class yet, but through our screening events, they get an informative sneak peek.
We started the month with a screening for a largely Egyptian immigrant population out at the Egyptian Orthodox Church in Euless. Did you know--Egypt had the highest prevalence of hepatitis C in the world but has since made the news in the past couple of years for how quickly and how successful their government-led effort was at eliminating the disease. While it's seen as a huge success story, it's also a reminder that government funding and public awareness are key players in the fight against disease.
This weekend was really rainy, but we were able to make it out for a screening event at Grace Chinese Baptist Church in Plano. Sometimes we'll post to our Facebook story, so stay tuned for live updates and selfies!
It's been super great to partner with local ethnic churches, but we are also hoping to reach out to other populations, too. We've been looking into working with Indian temples and/or mosques, but we have fewer leads in those directions... If you have any ideas or would like to work with us, please email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) or message us on Facebook.
DFW Hep B Free participated in 2018 Hep B United Summit, and we had a chance to advocated for HBV research and funding increase at the Hill!